Life course partnership status and biomarkers in mid-life: evidence from the 1958 British birth cohort
George B. Ploubidis, University of London
Richard Silverwood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Emily Grundy, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Numerous studies have found that married people have better health than the unmarried. The vast majority of these studies relied on self reported health outcomes and considered only current marital status or transitions over relatively short periods, therefore ignoring the accumulated benefits and risks of marital status trajectories over the lifecourse. We employed data from a population based birth cohort to summarise longitudinal patterns of partnership status spanning 21 years that distinguished marital status and non-marital cohabitation. After controlling for selection due to early life and early adulthood characteristics, we found that lifecourse trajectories of partnership status were associated with haemostatic and inflammatory markers, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and respiratory function in mid-life. Never marrying and neither cohabiting was detrimental to health in mid-life for both genders but the effect was more pronounced in men. Women married during their late 20’s or early 30’s that remained married had the most optimal health in mid-life. Not married cohabiters of both genders had similar mid-life health outcomes with those that were married. We found that the accumulated effect of partnership status over 21 years affects a wide range of biomarkers in mid-life. Further research is needed to identify the pathways that link lifecourse trajectories of partnership status and mid-life health.
Presented in Session 16: Biodemography and the life course